John Sorenson’s Book of Mormon Geography in Google Maps

Finally there is a way to really explore John Sorenson’s Book of Mormon geography. Made popular by his 1985 publication “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon“, Sorenson’s geographic model for the Book of Mormon has withstood the test of time and remains the preeminent geographic model for Book of Mormon events. Unfortunately, exploring and testing his geographic model in an accessible way has proven difficult given the arrangement of data and maps in his books.

I have scoured Sorenson’s book for his geographic correlations and have mapped them in Google Earth and saved the map for public consumption. Click on the individual pins for information on the archaeological/modern geographical location that Sorenson ties it to, as well as the page number in his book where he justifies it. This is meant to be a faithful reproduction of John Sorenson’s geographic model, not necessarily an endorsement of it (though I do believe he has brought us close to the truth). One of the advantages to doing it in Google Maps, as opposed to Google Earth (which is easily done using the same .KML file) is that you can turn on the “terrain” base map, which is a powerful way of understanding the lay of the land.

Please enjoy, and leave comments about what you think of the map.

You can play with the map below, or follow this link for the full view (which is much easier to use): https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zeDP0Thvyobg.kjRO8wXEaazw

P.S. Sorenson’s map should not be explored without also considering Brant Gardner’s essay on Nephite directional systems.

P.S.S. if you’d like the .KML file for this map please let me know.

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23 comments on “John Sorenson’s Book of Mormon Geography in Google Maps

  1. Carl Pate says:

    Individuals considering Book of Mormon Geography models, particularly, the models proposed by Allen, Hauk, Norman & Sorenson, would do well to read the monograph, “The Mormon Geography Problem – Chapter and Verse”, located on the website MormonTopics.com. The monograph by Dr Robert A. Pate, PhD, uses “chapter and verse” from The Book of Mormon to discuss the accuracy of the aforementioned models. It articulates specific issues that need to be considered for an accurate solution.

    • James says:

      Hi Carl, am I right in assuming you are his brother, or some other family member?

    • Carl says:

      In response to James question- Yes, I am a relative of Robert Pate.
      I am sorry I did not see your response sooner. I checked, repeatedly after I posted my last comment, but I have not seen your response until today.

  2. Mark says:

    I am very interested in the subject of the location of happenings of the Book of Mormon. I have a few questions to consider. How can the narrow neck of land spoken of be this part of Central America? It says that a Nephite can cross it in a day. I do not think that it is possible to cover that part of Central America in a day?
    Central America is not the Promised Land. The boundaries of The United States of America is the Promised Land.
    The Book of Mormon talks about migrating beasts. I do not know of any migrations in that area of Central America where the climate/weather is virtually the same year round.

    ???

    • James says:

      Hi Mark.

      I agree that the narrow neck of land is one of the more challenging aspects of Sorenson’s geographic model, though in the big picture it still is by far the most likely candidate. Much has been written about it, and the other topics you have mentioned.

      What books, authors, websites, etc., have you consulted in your Book of Mormon geography studies? Are you a partial to any particular model?

  3. David says:

    Look to Florida as the Book of Mormon land

  4. JRSG says:

    The whole American continent is the promised land which is Canada, United States, Mexico, Central America and South America.

    I read Brant Gardner’s essay on directions. Does not make any sense at all.
    People who are trying to prove their theories of where the main events of the Book of Mormon took place are ignoring a lot of what the Book of Mormon says.

  5. dave burkey says:

    I have heard theories of the BOM, and I might agree with, The area of the BOM is in North America, near the great lakes area. Many evidences have been found in that area. Mounds of bones are found all over that area, There are old remnants of forts and strong holds that resemble the descriptionSmith found them in upstate New York, Not in South America. How would the plates have gotten ti NY from South America? I have some videos explaining it all. But the BOM said that they spread trough out the land, So who knows.

  6. dave burkey says:

    Sorry, I put a post earlier, but since I am on a laptop, my mouse pad somehow erased some of it, so here it is again.

    I have heard other theories of there the lands were in the BOM, and I might agree with them. The area of the BOM is in North America, near the great lakes area. Many evidences have been found in that area. Mounds of bones are found all over that area, due to the wars they had. Carbon dated to the BOM timeline. There are old remnants of forts and strong holds that resemble the description of ones in the BOM. There is a tribe of Native Americans that have the same DNA markers as the Jews, Not to be found anywhere else in North or South America. The Golden plates were buried in the hill Cumorah, Joseph Smith found them in upstate New York, Not in South America. How would the plates have gotten to NY from South America?
    I have some videos explaining it all. But the BOM said that the people spread trough out the land, So who knows.

  7. James says:

    Hi Dave. I personally favor a Mesoamerican model. From my look at the issue it best accounts for population levels, writing ability, social complexity, geographic considerations, etc. That isn’t to say that some Book of Mormon populations didn’t migrate northward into North America, but the stories told in the BoM are primarily centered in Mesoamerica. That’s my view, anyway.

  8. David K says:

    I leaned toward the mesoamerican model for many years until I came across the work of Del Dowdell and his blog at nephicode.com. He proposes a south american model (peru and ecuador) with hagoth’s ships north going to mesoamerica and accounting for the mayan ruins. His work is extremely well documented (in the books he has written) and extremely compelling. If you are interested, it’s worth your time to check out nephicode.com.

    • Dave B says:

      no one really knows exactly where it took place. Most is speculation. Remember, there was a time of expansion where people moved all over the land. too ships all over the place. we will probably never know until somwone from that time comes and tells us. (like Moroni) Actually, I am sure that Joseph Smith knew exactly where the land of Zarahemla was.

  9. Varden says:

    Excellent map! Love the layout to an actual real-world map.

  10. erichard111 says:

    You should also consider the Andes with the Amazon basin underwater before Christ model. Start here: https://goo.gl/fP1yCS This is the first of 33 posts overseeing this model. To go to the next blog post, use the Menu on the right side of the webpage.

  11. James says:

    Hi erichard111. Thanks for commenting!

    I personally do not subscribe to the “flooded Amazon” hypothesis because it defies all known geologic data for that time and place.

    Beyond that, my view is that the destructions and changes that took place at Christ’s death were not nearly so drastic. Why? Because Mormon (living hundreds of years after Christ) was intimately familiar with the terrain in the stories he recounted from before Christ. So while cities may have been destroyed and flooding may have taken place, I just don’t see evidence for topographic change at the level you are proposing.

    Thanks!

    • David kane says:

      I agree with erichard on this one. I’ve studied Book of Mormon geography for over 20 years and thousands of hours. I’ve read the Book of Mormon over 100 times. I’ve highlighted and studied over 500 verses in the Book of Mormon relating to geography. I’ve compared location descriptions pre and post the changes at the death of Christ. I’ve studied all models- including all of Sorenson’s writings and maps, Malaysia, Great Lakes, Heartland. Each of these models have many points that directly conflict the Book of Mormon. The South American Andes model fits every verse of the Book of Mormon perfectly.
      James- when I first studied the Andes model, I had a hard time thinking most of South America was below the surface of the ocean, but – there is actually ample geographical evidence of it. I’d be happy to point you in the right direction if you are interested. Also, keep in mind Mormon had access to and was abridging the records of those who lived in and described the lands they lived in pre the destruction in 3 Nephi.
      The other thing I had to understand when I first studied the Andes model was – then who built the Mayan ruins. Even though I had several concerns with sorensons model it seemed the most likely. The answer is the ships of Hagoth sailed from the bay by Guatemala north to mesoamerica.
      Incidentally sorensons initial maps based on the Book of Mormon scriptures match up almost perfectly with the Andes model. It is only after he turned it 90 degrees to match his preconceived decision of mesoamerica that it no longer fits the scriptures.
      All of the Western Hemisphere is the promised land. But the lands those in the Book of Mormon times lived in were smaller.
      The best source on all this is at nephicode.com. Haven’t looked at erichards site yet but will now.
      The church has no official position on Book of Mormon geography but it is fun to study with those who share a similar interest.

    • James says:

      If you have evidence that S. America was underwater just 2000 years ago I’d love to know about it. As a geologist I find it absurd at this point.

  12. David Kane says:

    James- thank you for your quick reply. Please see this link for the first of a 7 post series written by Del Dowdell about the rising of S. America. He includes many references.
    https://nephicode.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-rising-of-south-america-part-i.html
    (click on “new post” at the bottom to go to the 2nd post in the series)

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on it.

    Dave

  13. David kane says:

    James – here is a link to another article from Del about this.
    https://nephicode.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-rising-of-south-america-part-i.html

    There is also a follower on the sire with the screen name iterry who is a geologists and often posts comments of his research. He too agrees that at Christ’s death, the nazca plate went under the South America plate and caused the Andes uplift. Mountains of great height rose up as per Samuel the Lamanites prophecy. The rest of now South America to the west also rose up enough to be above water. I am confident that if you give careful study to these posts you will see that it makes sense. Del’s work is very logical, well documented and never strays from the text of the Book of Mormon.

    • Ira says:

      Hi, I wanted to write and confirm what David Kane has explained. I am a geologist and believe completely in the South American model of the BOM lands. Plate tectonics explains the rising of South America as David has discussed with you. The eye witness accounts in the BOM are further evidence that cannot be dismissed.

      I used to accept the Meso American model until I discovered many fatal flaws in the research of John Sorenson. I had to abandon the model at some point when it became apparent that his model does not compare to the scriptural record as presented in the BOM.

      Ira

  14. Ira says:

    Hi, I wanted to leave a comment about a few subjects that I’m interested in discussing. At one time I thought the Meso American model was a good until I started comparing the model geography to the BOM. Then I found a number of problems. About that time was came across “The Book and The Map by Venice Priddes” which proposed a South America. model. I found this model to be correct and most closely follows the BOM geography in every way. I’ve study the model now for years and found it very exciting and accurate. I’m also a geologist who has been taught the uniformatarian ideas in school. The S.A. model does elude to the fact that a good portion of S.A. was underwater before Christ. There is a considerable amount of information that suggests that thus is the case. NEPHICODE.BLOGSPOT written by Del has published a number of these examples on his website. I believe it. Plate tectonics explains very clearly how this can happen. The BOM has eye witness accounts that this is the case. So as a geologist I’m convinced this is a good model that every latter-day Saints should study and ultimately accept. I could go into many very interesting examples of why I believe this model and also why the Meso model in no way fits the scriptural record. Nephicode.blogspot has already done an excellent job of explaining the many contradictions in the Meso model. The thing that is required to accept the S.A. model is to believe in the eye witness account of the destruction and believe that God can raise a continent during a 3 hour earthquake. Plate tectonics explains this is possible. Thanks, Ira

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